Is Sexual Addiction a Medical Disorder or Moral Failure?

“I am addicted to pornography and struggle with lustful thoughts.”

My immediate thought, “Not again.”

Not for the reason of the mere shock at the reality of the overwhelming numbers of people struggling over this particular sin, but for the very reason I have personally not witness in ministry a person successfully conquering the sin of sexual addiction.

I looked back at my notes and asked myself, “Was God honored and both couples sensed that meeting was a fruitful time that was centered around the gospel? What does grace look like in the midst of addictions? How can believers overcome these problems that seem so prevalent?”


Sexual Addiction seen as a Medical Disorder by Secular Society  

The assumption of even in the statement, “I’m an addict” are not seen from a spiritual problem, but more as a mental disorder rather than a sin issue within one’s heart.

Now, I am not denying the reality of addiction in our society and culture in our day in age. However, there has been a significant shift in how society views sin and have blame shifted to some sort of knee jerk reaction of mere, “cause-and-effect” of the victim party. “I am a sex addict and I can’t overcome this, and it will be like this for a lifetime.”

Even with the recent article written by Caroline Simon that appeared in USA Today saying,

“Sex addiction as a medical, not moral condition.” Sex addiction is a number one classified as a mental disorder by the World Health Organization which counter-culture the biblical understanding of deep-rooted issue within the heart.


Scriptural Observation on the Topic of Sexual Addiction

There is a place for medical and doctors to step in; the sufficiency of scripture is not anti-medicine nor anti-doctor, but biblical counseling steps in the realm for first and foremost elevating God’s Word and finding the solution there (1 Tim. 3:16). The sick need physicians (Mark 2:14-17), Jesus chooses not to heal at times (2 Cor. 12:7-10), and when God chooses not to heal, we need to seek medical help.

Heath Lamber in his book, “Finally Free” counters this idea as the following.

“Men look at pornography out of an arrogant desire to see women in a way that God does not allow. They show arrogant defiance to God’s command rejecting the delight of sexual intimacy in marriage and deciding for themselves that they believe is better = looking at naked woman in porn. They show arrogance disregard for God’s call to selfless marital love. The arrogant derision for the female actresses whom they should be seeking to respect as women who need to hear the good news of Jesus. They show arrogant disdain for their own children by hiding their sin and inviting the enemy into their home and their marriage. They show arrogance disrespect toward all those who would be scandalized if their sin were known. The problem with men who look at porn is not neediness – it is arrogance.”[1]

The arrogant harden heart needs a transforming work that could only be done by the inner working of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8).

A genuine change leads to people putting into practice as belief impacts behavior (Luke 6:46-49; Eph. 4:22-24; I Cor. 15:10). Paul is clear as I will ask the person to read through the passage from Romans 6-8 and record principles the person can apply specifically in life as they walk through the temptation of sin.

Often, at this time, I hear many people have said whether sexual sin or all sorts of addictions say, “This is just who I am. I’ve always been this way.” These are scriptures where we are commanded to say, “No” to sin (Tit. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 4:1-5; Pet. 1:2-8; Prov. 13:15; Gal. 6:7-8; Prov. 28:1)

There must be a genuine sense of grief and sorrow over the sin that was committed.

There is no room for, “This is who I am so accept me,” mentality of Christianity in scripture. Peter says, “You are partakers of divine nature… giving all diligence add to…” (2 Pet. 1:2-8). He calls from identity found in Christ and says, “Chosen people… fleshly lusts wage war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:9-11). In the book of Romans, Paul makes the bold command to “Put on Lord Jesus” (Rom. 13:14).

Therefore, sexual misbehavior should be addressed not merely as a neurological disorder or chemical imbalance within the brain but approached from a holistic standpoint by using scripture because the Word of God is sufficient for all things whether it is a mental disorder or moral failure.


Heart of the Problem is the Problem of the Heart

The 21st century American evangelical Christian bookstores are filled with addiction self-help books focused on self in a similar fashion.

In a recent Sunday school discussion, people discussed the topic of the discipline of prayer and said, “Well, you got to have a system and just prepare yourself.” Guardrails or systems have distinct fundamental importance with well-intention, on the other hand as mentioned earlier, the means of grace cannot enable the harden hearts of vile to rebellious sinners to beckon the eternal decrees of God.

The secular theory system says the evil in one’s life is not accounted within the heart, but from mental disorder within the brain cell. The blame is put elsewhere (to the mind), instead of within the sinful nature (heart).

The ultimate issue is not the system nor barriers men creates, but it is the heart that is the problem.

Therefore, sexual misbehavior (addiction) is much more than a neurological disorder.

Sexual misbehavior engages the whole entire being of a person (cognition, affection, volition), as a result, must be diagnosed beyond a chemical imbalance and having a false perception deal with the individual’s moral failing as a medical problem.

Sexual addiction is a spiritual problem and the antidote is found within scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).







[1]Heath Lambert and Joshua Harris, Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, 7/13/13 edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 110.

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